The Norse King's Bridal
THE WAKING OF ANGANTHEOW
NOTE: Swafurlami, a king of the seed of Odin, stole the sword Tyrfing (ripper) from the dwarfs who forged it. They laid on it a curse---that it should bring death to its bearer; that no wound made by it should be healed; and that three deeds of woe should be wrought by it. Swafurlami is slain by Arngrim, who inherits the sword. Eyfura, his wife, has twelve sons, all of whom become Vikings. Angantheow, the eldest, and his brothers, are eventually all slain near Upsala by Hjalmar, and his brother Arrow-Odd; but Hjalmar, being wounded by Tyrfing, has only time to sing his death-song before he dies.
Herwor (by his wife Tofa) is brought up as a bond-maid, in ignorance of
her parentage. When at last she learns it, the war-fury comes upon her;
she arms herself as an Amazon, and goes to Munarvoe in Samsey, in quest
of the dwarf-doomed weapon. The following poem concerns her dialogue with
her dead father, his yielding up to her of Tyrfing, and his prophecy of
the further doom its possession will bring upon her race.
The maid at eve in Munarvou
Saw the herdsman homeward go.
Who walketh alone so late i' the isle?
Go seek thee shelter and sleep awhile.
I seek not shelter to sleep awhile,
For I know not the dwellers in the isle;
Tell me, thou, what fain I'd know---
Where is the mound called Hiorward's Howe?
Mad thou art, that askest thus,
And thy plight is piteous!
Fly we to shelter, far and fast---
The world without is grim and ghast.
I'll give thee a neck-ring of gold so red---
Not thus is the friend of heroes stayed!
No ring that's wrough of the gold so gay,
No goodly guerdon, my feet shall stay;
Him I hold but a witless wight
That will walk alone in the grisly night.
Fires are flitting, and grave-mounds gape!
Burns field and fen! Seek we to 'scape!
Nay, for their fretting no fright I know,
Tho' all the isle went up in a lowe.
Nay, it behoves not to fear nor flee
Tho' ghosts arise. Talk thou with me!
Far to the forest he fled, afraid
To hold discourse with the hardy maid;
But higher-strung for her dauntless quest,
Herwor's heart swelled in her breast.
Angantheow, wake! the voice is mine,
Tofa's only child and thine;
Give to me the sword of flame
Forged by dwarfs for Swafurlam!
Angantheow, Herward, Hioward, Rann
Waken, each and every man!
Waken, waken from your sleep
'Mid the tree-roots, where ye keep
Blood-stained spear and sword and shield---
All the weapons warriors wield.
Surely, seed of Arngrim bold,
Dust ye are, and mounds of mould,
Speechless, if ye let me go,
Eyfur's sons, in Munarvoe!
Angantheow, Herward, Hiorward, Rann!
Be it in your rib-bones' span
As of ants a stinging horde,
If ye give me not the sword!
Ghosts no gear should have in ward!
Herwor, daughter! Wherefore thus
Callest curses down on us?
Mad thou art, distracted maid,
Wilful waking thus the dead!
Surely thou art no mortal wight
That comest thus to the howe at night,
With helm and spear and bright breast-plate,
Ore of the Goths, to the grave-mound's gate!
Men called me a mortal, till thus I yode
To seek thee out in thine abode.
Give me what the dwarfs have wrought---
it avails thee not.
Never hand of sire nor kin
Laid me here, the howe within,
But the foeman two that I did not slay---
Tyrfing one of them bears today.
See now that the truth thou tell!
May the grisly fiends of hell
Tear thee piecemeal from they grave
If thou hast not there the glaive!
Slow thou art, I tell thee true,
To give thine only child her due!
Hell-gate is opening---the graves gape wide!
The isle is flaming on every side!
All is ghastly and grim to see---
Back to thy ships, maid! Turn and flee.
Never a bale that burns by night
Shall put me with its flame to flight.
Never thy daughter's heart shall shrink
Tho' a ghost should stand at the grave-
bind ye all with a magic doom
To lie and rot within the tomb!
Hjalmar's bane, from out the howe,
The sharp mail-scather, give me now!
Under my shoulders lies Hjalmar's bane,
Fenced with a fire that will not wane
No maiden I ken of earthly mould
Will dare such a blade in her hand to hold.
May I have the shining blade
I will hold it, unafraid.
It scares me not, it sinks and dies,
The burning flame, before mine eyes.
Herwor the brave, art mad, to go
Open-eyed into the lowe!
Rather with the sword shalt hie thee;
Nothing, maid, can I deny thee.
(He gives her the sword out of his grave.)
Son of Vikings, well dost thou
To give me the sword from out the howe;
to me the boon, I say,
Than wee I to conqu er all Norroway.
Little, daughter, dost thou know
Wherefore thou rejoicest so!
Fond, thou speakest words of woe.
Then shalt bear a son at length
Who will trust in Tyrfing's strength;
Heidrek, thus his name shall run,
Richer than all beneath the sun.
I must fare to my steeds of the sea;
Gay and glad is my heart in me.
Son of a king, I reck not at all
How my children hereafter strive and brawl!
Long shalt thou hold and enjoy thy gain;
But keep in the scabbard Hjalmar's bane.
Touch not the edges, with venom dight,
Wose than a plague to living wight.
Daughter, farewell! The power and pith
Fain would I endue thee with
Of us twelve men, the life and breath
The sons of Arngrim lost in death!
All is accomplished; I must not stay.
Hail, ye in the howe! I will away.
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'Twixt life and death, methought, I found me,
When the flaming fire was all around me!